With Gov. Charlie Crist calling for a special session of the Legislature to advance a proposed constitutional amendment banning oil drilling in state waters, his rivals in the race for the U.S. Senate seat are taking aim at the governor and his response to the oil spill in the Gulf.
Crist, who is running without party affiliation, is locked in a tight race with former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the likely Republican candidate. The two leading Democratic candidates in the race, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire financier Jeff Greene, trail far behind Rubio and Crist. A poll released Thursday by Rasmussen Reports had Rubio ahead of Crist, but within the polls margin of error.
Rubio ripped into Crist for calling the special session a political stunt and attacking the way the governor and President Barack Obama have managed the oil spill.
The Obama/Crist response to the oil spill has been a total failure and Florida families and businesses are suffering because of it, said Rubio on Thursday. This special session is nothing more than a political sideshow that will do nothing to help Panhandle businesses, keep oil off our beaches, or prevent future spills. In fact, Charlie Crist seeks to ban something that is already illegal under state law. We dont need more photo ops and finger pointing. We need leadership.
Every available clean-up skimmer in the world should be along our Gulf Coast right now, added Rubio. After two months, there is no reason we dont have containment booms and barriers protecting every vulnerable beach. We need strong leadership that will challenge government to do more before its too late. Instead, Charlie Crist seems more focused on releasing birds than releasing skimmers.
Rubio said he was opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling.
We all agree that the Gulf oil spill is a tremendous tragedy that must never be repeated, said Rubio. But drilling is going to happen off our coast whether its done by America, China or Cuba, which just last week announced plans to drill 60 miles off the Florida Keys. We still need safer and smarter offshore energy exploration to end our addiction to foreign oil.
While Rubio attacked Crist for calling the special session, Meek wondered why Crist had not summoned the Legislature back earlier.
"What took the governor so long? demanded Meek, who is facing a tough challenge from Greene for the Democratic nomination. On the 80th day of the Gulf oil spill, Governor Crist finally got around to calling a special session to block drilling off Florida beaches. It shouldn't have come to this. Where was he before the spill? I've fought my entire life against Big Oil and against drilling off our beaches -- even when it was unpopular to do so. We need leaders who aren't afraid to tackle tough issues, not politicians who wait to act until it's politically expedient."
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